In October I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 5th Swedish Film Festival in Seoul, Korea. Over the course of the week I got to see six excellent films that embraced the theme of diversity in Sweden and in the world. Having lived in Japan and now Korea, one of the things I have observed is a lack of exposure to other cultures. People often base their knowledge of outside cultures on what they see on T.V. or read in books. Several of my classmates once told me that they didn't know that Swedish was a language until they met me!
While waiting for a movie to start, an older Korean woman started talking to me. She asked if I spoke Swedish and I told her that in fact, I did. She then began speaking fluent Swedish to me! I was shocked! Never did I expect to find another Swedish speaker in Seoul, much less this older Korean woman. She told me all about how she had lived and worked as a reporter in Stockholm in the 1970's and about how she had overcome a lot of the same obstacles I've had to overcome while here in Seoul.
The longer I live here, the more thankful I am for events like this film festival. Over the course of the weekend, I talked to a lot of Koreans who said they came to see the films just to see what Swedish culture is like. In an ever diversifying world, it becomes more and more important to learn about each other. One of the reasons I came to Korea was to share and exchange culture and I hope that throughout the rest of my year here I can continue to do so just as the film festival has here!
Alex is an alum of the 2014 Korea Summer program, and is a current participant on the 2016-2017 Korea Academic Year program.